Great Bedwyn St Mary's historic church organ to be restored following Heritage Lottery Fund award
St Mary's in Great Bedwyn will soon resound again to the glorious sound of a fully restored hostoric Grade II* pipe organ thanks to the fund raising efforts of the team at St Mary's which has been topped off by the award of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £23,200.
It was importance was recognised by the HLF hence the award to bring it back to its former glory. It has been awarded a Grade II* Certificate from the British Institute of Organ Studies. The citation says that it is 'an instrument of importance to the national heritage and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations.'
According to Andrew Hutchison of the Great Bedwyn Music Society "What is so special, apart from the undoubted quality of the instrument, is the fact that it still speaks with exactly the same voices as it did a century and a quarter ago. It has never been modified in any way except for the addition of an electric blower in the 1940s. As such, with all its 610 pipes still speaking, it is a precious survival."
Built by the nationally famous organ builder, J Walker in the second half of the nineteenth Century, the organ arrived in St Mary's Church in 1888 following a short period as the main organ in Romsey Abbey.
Replaced in Romsey by an even larger Walker organ it was transferred to Great Bedwyn by train and the cost of the organ, transportation and rebuild in St Mary's came to a total of £310, which was donated as a gift from Louisa, Marchioness of Ailesbury in memory of her husband, Ernest, the third Marquis of Ailesbury.
A number of Great Bedwyn villagers have already made donations to the organ restoration fund. Their generosity, and that of the Samuel William Farmer Trust in raising over £14,000 has helped the team make the strong and succesful case to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The total cost of the restoration will be about £35,000 and the work will be undertaken by Griffiths and Co. Organ Builders, beginning quite soon.
When the restoration is complete, HLF has funded the production of a booklet detailing the restoration, a CD, and a celebrity concert later in 2018.